Car accident cases are not always just the other driver's fault. Here's how these cases work:
If you have been in a car accident another driver caused, then you probably already know that the other driver can be held legally responsible for your injuries. However, in some instances there are other parties who could be liable to for your damages as well. Generally, third parties hold some sort of power over the driver whose actions caused your car accident, because the driver is furthering the third party's interests in some way. Since their interests are being furthered, the duties a third party would normally owe to all of us, if they were dealing with us directly still apply.
While it is helpful to motorists that someone else may bear liability for an accident, that person is not always readily apparent to someone who has been injured in a car accident and can actually complicate a case considerable. By itself, the logistics of tracking down a responsible third party is beyond what most motorists without legal experience can accomplish. That is another reason that it is so important to involve an experienced car accident attorney in your case as soon as possible. At Grossman Law Offices we have held hundreds of liable third parties accountable over the last 25 years.
Questions answered on this page:
- What does third party mean?
- Who is typically classified as a third party to an accident?'
- Why is it important to track down liable third parties?
- How can an experienced car accident attorney ensure you hold a third party accountable and maximize your claim?
What is meant by "third party" cases.
In any accident case you have, you, the "first party," the person who hit you, the "second party," and sometimes a "third party." In an accident third party means someone not at the accident scene who still is responsible. Everyone is likely familiar with the concept of an accomplice to a crime. Third-party liability in a car accident setting is when there is someone other than the driver who hit you is liable because they were an "accomplice" to the driver who hurt you.
There are generally two scenarios that make a third party liable:
- First, they did not exercise proper prudence when relinquished control of their vehicle to someone who shouldn't have been driver.
- Another reason that a third party would be held liable is when some goal that benefits the third party is being advanced. These principles become much clearer when attached to an actual group of people.
Here are some examples of "third parties" who can be held responsible:
- Parents. From time immemorial, courts have required parents to cover the losses their children cause to others. So, if someone under the age of 18 causes an accident, the parents are ultimately the ones who are held responsible.
- Alcohol providers. In Texas, our Dram Shop laws hold bars and restaurants accountable for selling alcohol to someone who obviously should not be drinking. As part of being allowed the privilege of serving alcohol, bars agree to do so responsibly. This means not serving those who are underage or people who are obviously intoxicated.
- Government entities. When there's a road defect that is responsible for your accident, it is possible that the other driver shares very little of the blame, in which case a claim against a government entity can be pursued.
- Manufacturers. Sometimes, a faulty part in a car is the cause of your injuries, which would mean that the other driver shares less of the blame, if any, and you would have a products liability claim against the manufacturer.
- The Friend That Loaned the Car to the Driver. Someone may have lent the vehicle to the driver, knowing that they were not equipped to drive, and as such, they could be responsible. For instance, if someone knows their brother has been in numerous car accidents and is a particularly reckless driver, then the decision to loan they may assume liability for their brother's actions by loaning him a car.
- Employers. Was the person who hit you also on-the-clock? If so, his employer may be also liable, since the person who hit you was acting on behalf of the company at the time, not himself. This claim is an outgrowth of the doctrine of respondeat superior, which holds employers liable for the actions of employees when they were on the clock and furthering company business.
The common thread with all of these categories of parties is that they weren't at the scene of your accident. Further, at the time the accident, it probably never occurred to you that they could responsible, too.
How a car accident attorney can help.
While third party liability may strike some as very legalistic, the implications can be quite real. For instance if someone is out running an errand because their boss asked them too, even if they are in their own car, with their own insurance, if they cause an accident and their insurance company finds out that they were on a work errand, their insurance may deny the claim. While it may strike most people as completely unjust, the insurance company would be on pretty firm legal ground.
If injured motorist were to then attempt to sue the insurance company on their own, there is a very good chance that they would lose. The reason isn't because the driver didn't have a valid injury claim, but because they sued the wrong person. However, with the help of an experienced car accident attorney, who thoroughly investigated the case before a lawsuit was filed, the same person would probably be able successfully pursue their car accident injury claim.
If you have been injured in a car accident there so many variables, like third parties with potential liability that your best chance for obtaining full compensation for your injuries is by hiring an experienced car accident attorney to represent you. The car accident attorneys at Grossman Law Offices have twenty five years of experience and have helped hundreds of car accident victims. We can help you determine all of the potential defendants in your case, and we can help ensure that you receive all of the compensation that you deserve. Call one of our car accident attorneys today for a free consultation at (855) 326-0000.
If you have more questions about third party liability, the following articles may be of interest to you:
- Third Party Liability in Road Defects Cases
- Malfunctioning Vehicles and Third Party Liability
- How Does Negligent Entrustment of a Motor Vehicle Work?
- Litigating a Car Accident Case